Black Cat #1 Review

by Charles Martin on December 16, 2020

Black Cat #1 Review
Writer: Jed MacKay
Artist: C.F. Villa
Colourist: Brian Reber
Letterer: Ferran Delgado
Preview Page Artist: Nina Vakueva
Publisher: Marvel Comics

We jump back into Felicia Hardy's life to see her react to the King in Black evacuation of New York in a perfectly in-character way: Running a heist to take advantage of the distraction.

Her plan to "toecut" forgotten S.H.I.E.L.D cash away from another crew of thieves is plenty exciting -- and then the event literally drops a symbiote dragon on top of her.

This leads her to a star-spangled team-up with some a-listers: Dr. Strange, the X-Men, and Captain America. You don't need to be reading the main event to know this ends poorly.

The Cat ends up stung by Knull's unstoppable rise -- and his unforgivable interruption of her heist. So she resolves to run her next heist right up his nose, unimaginable gulf between their power levels be damned!

It is, I say again, perfectly in-character for Felicia from start to finish. And that remains the great strength of this creative team's take on the Black Cat, unchanged from the last volume: Their Felicia is always an appealing, engaging protagonist. 

Under Jed MacKay's delightfully dextrous hand, Felicia has emerged as a remarkable character, driven by a careful balance of self-awareness and ego. That balance is on full display with this latest crazy scheme. She's fully aware that she's not the sort of "cosmic whozit" who could oppose Knull (she watches him beat the Sentry in this issue). But she holds it as a point of pride that you don't interrupt the Black Cat at work without at least getting a bloody nose in return.

C.F. Villa is still doing this book a grand service by blocking in terrific characters and arranging dynamic fight scenes.  The apocalyptic battle scenes show off his ability to convey motion and emotion even with middle-distance and background characters; most of the fight panels are well worth patient scrutiny. And the splashier character spotlights remain impressive, too.

Brian Reber gives the colour palette an overhaul to reflect the dramatic scale-up going on in this crossover issue. Heavy shadows are mostly contrasted with high-intensity colours (particularly red) rather than the last volume's signature chilly palette. The effect is an appropriate one; the colours themselves are asserting that this is a different kind of Black Cat story.

Finally, let me praise the entire creative team for pulling off a continuity-balancing miracle. This issue by itself is a great story, engaging, completely comprehensible, and fully capable of selling #2. Readers need not have gone through the past volume of Black Cat to fully enjoy what's happening here. Likewise, following along with the ongoing King in Black event is not at all required.

But this story is not unfolding in a bubble! It is a strong continuation of the last volume that will be a delight for those who did follow it. And the Cat's heist seems likely to play a key role in the wider event, strongly rewarding those who read both this and King In Black.

Black Cat #1 brings Felicia Hardy back with a mighty symbiotic dragon-roar, tying strongly to the King in Black event yet retaining a remarkable degree of independence. It's still the same lovably amoral heist crew from the last volume; now they're just setting their sights a little higher -- on a cosmic death-god. How hard could it be?

Our Score:


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